Phenomenological criticism - Introduction to literary...

Phenomenological criticism

Any of the textocentric methodologies in literary criticism inevitably leads, as has been shown, to underestimation, and even to open rejection of what can be called the "human factor" in creativity and in his perception. Structuralists and New Critics (if we take the extremes of their theories) tend to interpret the text as something self-developing. The one-sidedness of such a view could not be long overlooked. In the 1970s, the new and structuralist-oriented criticism underwent massive attacks from those writers who did not want to confine themselves to the cult of the actual text, understanding the latter not as an "aesthetic object", but as an "act of consciousness" or as an act of communication between the text and the reader, the author and the reader. This connection has previously attracted the attention of representatives of various critical schools. For example, psychoanalysts sought communication between the author and the reader, manifested at an unconscious level and based on the generality of suppressed drives. In the work they saw only a more or less veiled erotic content. Such frankly positivistic interpretation of literature also could not long satisfy critics. "Man," wrote American researcher W. Grass, "can not be defined only as Freudian understood" Homo natura ", for man is something much more than a mechanical device driven by the springs of instincts."

In search of anti-positivistic and antinaturalistic views on man, modern writers turned to the teachings of the phenomenologist E. Husserl and the existentialist M. Heidegger. Both of these philosophers have made consciousness the center of human existence, which determines the specificity of the latter. This alone has contributed to overcoming the positivist view of the individual as "Homo natura". Man, as the sole carrier of consciousness, becomes in their theories the center of the universe, giving names, and hence, the meaning of everything that exists.

The opposition of the nature and the human spirit; goes back to I. Kant. Developing the ideas of the latter, E. Husserl and M. Heidegger defined the world as a "system of meanings", and man as the creator of these meanings. The latter, therefore, ceased to be not only a mere bearer of the naturalistic qualities on which the positivists concentrated their attention, and not even the "thinking subject", which stood out slightly from the animal world-he was virtually the only creator (God did not speak!) of the world. By their merit, existential-phenomenological thinkers believe that they overcome the prevailing in the XIX century and not obsolete in our time, the understated-positivist, in particular Freudian, understanding of man, as "Homo natura". Not only instincts live a man, not without reason, the literary critics-phenomenologists believe, concentrating on the "consciousness" man as the creator of the meaning of existence, the meaning of the world to power.

The first in the 1920-1930-ies applied the teaching of E. Husserl in literary criticism of German scientists (M. Geiger, I. Pfeiffer, etc.). Then followers of the new research method appeared in France, Poland and Switzerland. The most famous phenomenological school in literary criticism is the Geneva group of critics, called "critics of consciousness". These critics, following E. Husserl and M. Heidegger, focus on the problem of consciousness and its expression in literature. The most famous critics of consciousness are M. Raymond, J. Poole, A. Begen, J. P. Richard, J. Starobinski, J. X. Miller.

All phenomenological critics proceed from the fundamental principle - the work is not a frozen object ( text ) for structural-textual analysis, and the act communication and at the same time the act of creating (both by the author and the reader) individual values. "

In contrast to the "new", semantic and other interested in poetic semantics and the form of its expression to critics, the representatives of the Geneva school almost ignore the technical side of artistic expression. For them it does not matter how the work is written, the main thing is that it most capacitively condenses the elements of the author's consciousness and stimulates a similar work of the reader's consciousness. There are no objective standards for a work of art for them. Creativity is understood as a strictly subjective act, in which personal perceptions are expressed. The orientation toward subjectivism is the result of the existentialist sympathies of critics-phenomenologists.

They are at war not only with the traditional but also with the more modern logical positivism, defending in the age of mechanistic theories and ways of creativity the artist's right to uniqueness, and art - to a special (not noticed by the structuralists) role in human life. It is man, not society, for art, in their opinion, is deeply subjective, like his perception and interpretation.

Defending the thesis of the subjectivity of perception and interpretation of a work of art, phenomenological critics nevertheless pay attention to certain socially significant aspects of art - its ethical, moral aspect, its humanistic orientation. They emphasize the communicative nature of literature, the means of which is the "dialogue" consciousness (between the writer and the reader, the text and the reader, between different epochs in the development of consciousness). However, they do not sink to the understanding of literature as a servant of society. The literature is incomparable, identical to itself, untranslatable in languages ​​ other areas of expression and knowledge. Its language and semantics are functional only in its closed area and outside it not valid. & Quot ;. Literary types and images should not, according to "critics of consciousness", relate to real people. This thought was developed by J. Poole in the book "Three Essays on Romantic Mythology" (1966) on the example of the "black-eyed blonde", which appears in many romantics (Byron, Musset). For J. Poole, this image is a "traditional literary type", and not a "reflection of reality". Literature, in fact, considers J. Poole, its reality.

Geneva and close to them literary critics are called not only "critics of consciousness and phenomenological critics. To denote this flow, definitions such as genetic & quot ;, ontological & quot ;, thematic criticism. It should only be clarified that genetic criticism focuses on the "experience" reader of the moment of the creation of the work, its genesis, and "thematic" - is interested in more or less stable and repetitive topics (the theme of the "black-eyed blonde", for example), fixed in the literary "consciousness." All these names emphasize the orientation of the considered direction on the "human factor", on the life of a person, how it is reflected in his consciousness, "experience."

The classical example of existential-phenomenological criticism is the article by M. Heidegger & "Helderlin and the essence of poetry", in which an attempt is made to substantiate the concept of the named school on literary material, namely, that a person - "teacher" of all things, that existence is first and foremost "dialogue", conversation, communication and that therefore language is not just an "instrument", but the medium and the "highest possibility" human existence. The latter concerns primarily the language of poetry. The poet, giving the names of the "essence of things", thereby introduces them into the real existence ", fixing, stabilizing this existence by means of words. Therefore, in its basis and in its highest manifestation, the existence of man, M. Heidegger believes, is "poetic".

In the understanding of the work of art and in its approaches to it, phenomenological critics, as already noted, differ fundamentally from the structuralists. Phenomenologists overcome the methodological "omnivorousness" structuralism, emphasizing the spirituality of the work of art and pointing to its "human" measurement.

Receptive criticism is very close in its principles to criticism of the phenomenological. Recceptive criticism is also called "criticism of reader reactions".

Already in the 1920s, English reader A. Richards was keenly interested in reader reactions to the artistic text, who devoted a book "Practical Criticism" to the study of this problem. Efforts of A. Richards did not receive support - at that time European and American literary criticism was carried away by psychoanalysis and Marxism. Later, there were other hobbies - new criticism & quot ;, structuralism. But it was the latter that provoked in many respects the intensification of interest in receptive criticism, in reader's reactions, because the mentioned (and other) methodologies, focusing solely on the text, the reader, and indeed the author were practically not interested. It is in this connection that there is reason to speak of the dehumanization of literature by such methodologies. This dehumanization was noticed by phenomenological and receptive critics who opposed their understanding of creativity to various textcentric approaches to it.

Receptive criticism has become most widespread in Germany, although since the late 1960s, its ideas have become assimilated in other countries. The basic principles of receptive criticism were set forth by V. Iser in the work "Uncertainty and reader reaction in prose". V. Isere, like deconstructivists, does not recognize the stability of the textual meaning. But if deconstructivists are the cause of this consider the ambiguity of the text itself, then receptive critics argue that this "instability" is determined by the variety of reader reactions to the same text. "We, the readers," says V. Isere, "make the works live." For textologists, in particular, for "new critics", the work lives its own life, it is autonomous.

Q. Isere, in contrast to P. de Maine and other structuralist-oriented literary critics, proceeds from the idea of ​​the originality of the artistic text, which "differs from all other kinds of text". The difference, in particular, is that a work of art "reconstructs a familiar world in unfamiliar forms". And these unfamiliar forms produce darkness text, which, in turn, stimulates the reader's imagination, excites "a large variety of reactions", or "readings".

In order to gain some firmness in the perception of the text and the judgment about it, the reader or critic begins to correlate its content or meaning with the "real world", not noticing that the text is losing its literary quality. The work of art, according to V. Yzer, does not reflect the real world, but "competes" with him. The text takes the "intermediate position between the world of real things and the world of reader experience". "The act of reading is therefore a process in which the reader strives to fasten the vibrating text structure to a particular value," V. Izer argues.

Naturally, in the so-understood text "darkness" structure, and meaning is not seen as a drawback - the more obscure the text, the more "readings" it stimulates, that is, it is truly artistic. However, "nothing is formed in the text itself", almost everything is brought into it by the reader. Just more darkened texts better excite the imagination of the reader, his reactions. Experienced writers do not seek a simple "engagement" opinions of the reader, but give him freedom. With this V. Iser connects the quality of the work. He welcomes the strengthening of the "darkness" in contemporary literature, analyzing its evolution from the straight-line works of Fielding to the utmost "darkened" novel "Ulysses Joyce.

If we proceed from the logic of V. Izer, the literature is rapidly progressing. In any case, the "darkness" in it on the historical gap between Fielding and Joyce has increased many times.

The ideas of the German school of "reader reactions" have developed in the works of the American literary critic S. Fish, in particular in his works "Surprised by sin: The Reader in the" Lost Paradise " (1971) and Literature in the reader: Affective Stylistics (1972).

W. Wimsat and M. Beardsley used to warn that excessive obsession with psychology would lead to the fact that a work as such can simply dissolve into it. Responding to this warning of close to "new critics" theorists, S. Fish writes: "The disappearance of the work in the reader's reactions to it - this is exactly what should happen in our criticism, because this happens in the process of reading". Everything in literature - content, form, genre, system of images - is subordinated to the reader's reaction and is crowned by it, says S. Fish. And a critic who does not understand this, looking for a work in the "object", is doomed, according to S. Fish, to complete failure. It should be borne in mind, the American theorist insists, following W. Iser, that "meaning is an event", something that happens (and does not "occur" in a work), and does not happen on a page where we are used to looking for it, but in the interaction between the printed word (or sound) and the actively working mind of the reader-listener. "

Hermeneutics (Greek hermeneutike - explain, comment) - the science of the art of understanding, the principles of interpretation of texts (not only artistic). The term is associated with the name of the god Hermes, who transmitted and explained to the mortal will of the gods.

Hermeneutics originated in antiquity as the art of interpreting prophecies of the oracle. In the era of Hellenism, the field of application of its principles was theological, artistic, legal and other texts. Later hermeneutics interpreted the Bible, its dark places.

The founder of hermeneutics in its modern sense is the German scientist F. D. Schleiermacher (1768-1834), and the most famous later theorists are V. Dilthey, H. Gadamer, M. Heidegger.

Hermeneutics deals primarily with general principles of interpretation of texts, developing a general theory of their understanding and interpretation. In this respect, it can be called, like philosophy, the "science of sciences". In this case, humanities, including literary criticism.

F. D. Schleiermacher (his works - "Hermeneutics", "Criticism") held the idea that the interpreter, the critic can understand the work better than the author himself. To do this, the critic must survive the author's creation act.

It is obvious that the ideas of Schleiermacher bear the imprint of the general direction of the era of romantic criticism, when the place of "taste", that is, of classicist normativity, was put "a genius", a standards-free creative individuality. Focus on individual is characteristic not only of Schleiermacher, but also of his follower V. Dilthey. The first thought that in general one can understand only that which has an individuality, in which, as in a drop of water, the fullness of life is reflected. V. Dilthey also emphasized the connection of the "psychic life" an individual with spirituality historical world. Later such an idea was developed by the United States philosopher N. Berdyaev in the book "The Meaning of History".

The general ideas of hermeneutics in different combinations and variants are used by many modern literary scholars. In particular, influential Western literary critic N. Fry, emphasizing the importance of criticism in the process of understanding literature, repeats Schleiermacher's idea that even a genius is not able to look at his creation from the side and correctly assess it. As an example, N. Frye leads Dante's attempt to comment on his "Divine Comedy". And this comment, says N. Fry, is not the "best" and not the most faithful.

Later theoreticians of hermeneutics, in particular G. Gadamer, began to pay special attention to the cultural and historical tradition that determines the understanding of the work of art. Schleiermacher considered the work as the generation of the "genius". For G. Gadamer, who goes more in the footsteps of V. Dilthey, the work is primarily a product of the cultural, spiritual experience of the era. And in order to understand it, one must permeate the spirit of this era, study its cultural and historical experience.

If traditional hermeneutics was understood as the methodological basis of the humanities, then "neogermeneutics" rather, he claims to become one of the private literary techniques. This is evidenced, in particular, by the work of the American literary critic, the neo-Hermeneutics E. D. Hirsch.

The most important task of ED Hirsch is the defense of the traditional view of the text as a carrier of a solid, definite and identifiable meaning. Considering herself a continuer of the traditions of the "general", or "classical", hermeneutics, ED Hirsch tries to show the flawedness of numerous "private hermeneutics", or "poetics" in our time. The latter are able to reflect only certain features of the literary phenomenon, not being able to show it in integrity.

For E.D. Hirsch, it is extremely important to identify the meaning in a work. He protests against various relativistic concepts of meaning. "The main intellectual (and emotional) basis for skepticism in the field of modern literary theory," he writes, "is the assumption that all knowledge is relative to". It is claimed that everyone "sees" literature from its point of view, and each responds in its own way to the content of the work of art. This approach to literature (and it is typical for the vast majority of modern theorists and especially for deconstructivists and receptive critics) ED Hirsch calls "cognitive atheism," which leads to extreme subjectivism and relativism. In fact, as the scientist is convinced: "The text can not be interpreted in isolation from the perspective that was given to it by the author ... Any other procedure will no longer be an interpretation, but authorship."

Thus, the understanding of a work of art, according to E. D. Hirsch, should be based on two initial principles - the author puts into the work a definite and firm value, the identification of which is the main task of the researcher. The closer the interpreter approaches the essence of the author's design, the more valuable and more accurate his understanding of the work.

ED Hirsch's literary methodology differs by a certain traditionality, one may even say that it is old-fashioned, but, on the other hand, it seems possible to criticize the really weak sides of the most fashionable in the 20th century and most often one-sided approaches to literature. What he does with no reason and does.

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